United Nations’ human rights expert on Myanmar accused the military of inflicting immense suffering on the ethnic communities in Rakhine and Chin states. Yanghee Lee, the outgoing Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, has called for an investigation into the allegations of ongoing war crimes and alleged human rights violation.
“While the world is occupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Myanmar military continues to escalate its assault in Rakhine State, targeting the civilian population,” said Lee in her latest report.
The UN expert lamented that the calls for a ceasefire, including by the Arakan Army, have gone unheeded and Myanmar’s military is systematically violating the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and human rights. She added that the military’s conduct against the civilian population of Rakhine and Chin States may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Referring to the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine state, Lee said that the tactics used by the Tatmadaw, official name of Myanmar’s armed forces, have intentionally maximised civilian suffering. According to the report, the Tatmadaw continues to operate with impunity and are now targeting all civilians in the conflict area.
“Their alleged crimes must be investigated in accordance with international standards, with perpetrators being held accountable,” wrote Lee in the scathing report.
The Tatmadaw has been fighting the Arakan Army which was established in 2009 by ethnic Rakhine Buddhists with an objective to seek greater autonomy from the central government. The rebel group, currently led by Commander in chief Twan Myat Naing, wants self-determination for multi-ethnic Arakanese population and claims that it has no links with Rohingya rebel group.
The hostilities between the two groups have intensified but the UN expert highlighted that the Tatmadaw has ramped up attacks against civilians. “In one artillery attack on 13 April, the Tatmadaw killed eight civilians, including at least two children, when it targeted Kyauk Seik village, in Ponnagyun township, with artillery from its nearby Battalion 550 base,” Lee said.
(Image credit: AP)